On the mailing thing, mailing can sometimes cause more harm than good, especially when numbers are small enough that customer service isn't a problem. Badges can get lost, people can move, they can get left at home, forged, etc.
I'm not as married to the idea as the hosts are, but I could see it working. PAX and the big Comicons mail out badges without worrying about forgery...
On the tracks thing, I guess its sort of like program genres. Like clasifying a panel as "Cosplay," "Culture," "Gaming," etc. I love the idea a lot. Question there is does the staff choose the classification or the panelist.
I was thinking full schedules done as different "personalities". Like, if you're super mecha manly man, go to these panels, have lunch at this time, check out these dealers, go to these showings. If you're super girly girl go to et cetera.
On the more info part, you've given me a few great ideas that I will bring up with our program book designer. I'd love to see a "why are we showing this" and "why is it cool" sections for each anime in our screening room.
I'm sure you could also man the rooms with people who know the shows fairly well. I'm sure there's some Film Studies professor at UNH who would trip over themselves for an opportunity like that.